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Match Reports

Smith brace gives U23s victory against Fulham

11 September 2017

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Young striker Sam Smith scored a brace that gave the Royals' Under-23s a well-earned 2-1 victory against Fulham in the PL2 on Monday night.

  • Smith's double gives Royals U23s victory after Adebayo equaliser
  • Scott Marshall earns victory in first match as U23s manager
  • Royals' second win of the season in the PL2

The Royals started confidently at Adams Park, Jake Sheppard supplying plenty of crosses into the Fulham area, one of which finding Sam Smith but his first-time effort was poked wide of the post.

The visitors looked the more dominant in possession in the opening stages, though, trying unsuccessfully to break down a resolute Royals midfield throughout the first half.

The Royals made the breakthrough soon after, with a cross into the area fumbled by Fulham goalkeeper Magnus Norman, and Smith was there on the follow-up to snatch it from the keeper’s grasp and prod home.

Scott Marshall’s side grew in stature in the game after the goal, controlling the play in midfield and camping the visitors in their own half in spells.

Josh Barrett looked lively on the left hand side, linking up well with wing-back Ramarni Medford-Smith on a number of occasions, with Barrett looping a cross into the path of his team-mate but narrowly out of his grasp. 

Legg was called into action at the other end when Stephen Humphrys found half-a-yard and bent a powerful effort at goal, but the goalkeeper reacted well to dive to his left and save, with Axel Andresson tidying up and clearing the danger.

The visitors burst out of the blocks in the second half as they searched for an equaliser, and they didn't have to wait long as Humphrys' well-timed through-ball found Adebayo in space, he beat the offside trap and put a composed finish past Legg to level the game.

The Royals almost took the lead again straight after, Ryan East finding Barrett in space on the left, striking an effort off the far post but the assistant had his flag up for offside. 

It wasn't long before the U23s had their lead back, though, Barrett again in the action to drive into the box and shoot. His effort was blocked but only into the path of Smith, who showed a poacher's instinct to slot in for his second of the night.

Smith could have completed his hat-trick around the hour mark as he burst into the Fulham area once more, but his left-footed effort only found the side netting.

Fulham tried forcing the equaliser with increased attacking intent later on, with a dangerous free-kick from the left hooked on to by Humphrys' diving header, which grazed the top of the crossbar.

Despite the visitors' best efforts and substantial late pressure, the Royals held on in the closing stages to claim a second PL2 victory of the season.

Reading U23s: Legg, Holmes, Osho (c), Andresson, Medford-Smith, Rinomhota, Sheppard, East (Holsgrove 76'), Smith (House 90+1'), Loader, Barrett.

Unused subs: Frost, Driscoll, Rollinson.

Goals: Smith 25', 56'

Fulham U23s: Norman, Felix (Jenz 72'), Kavanagh, Edun, Davies, Atkinson, Kwietniewski (Harris 84'), Kait, Adebayo, Humphrys, Thorsteinsson.

Unused subs: Ashby-Hammond, Elstone.

Goals: Adebayo 50'

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